Deciphering Nutrition Labels

Articles / Saturday, January 13th, 2018

Pet food from retailers is a commerical product subject to regulatory oversight, including ingredients, manufacturing, labeling and more. Labels fall into three categories, included, prohibited and optional.
Pet owners and veterinarians have a right to know what they are feeding their animals. The pet food label contains a wealth of information, if you know how to read.
AAFCO are models not official regs. USDA Food and Drug labeling requirements for anmial food apply to all products.

Product Name
Net Quantity
Manufactures name and address
Ingredient List
Guaranteed Analysis
Nutritional Adequecacy statement
Feeding Directions
Calorie Statement

The Name: The name of the food gives clues as to how much of an ingredient is actually present. For example, foods that include a protein source in the product name (“beef formula”) must contain at least 25% of the named ingredient.
Nutritional Adequacy: Established requirements for nutritional criteria (min and max) for essential nutrients for dogs
The Ingredients: All ingredients are required to be listed in order of predominanance by weight. Predominance by weight means the weight before processing. there is more of the first ingredient on the list present in the treat the second and so on. The first few ingredients are the most significant since they compromise the majority of the content. Ingredients must also be list by their common or usual name
The Guaranteed Analysis:
There are four basic nutritional guarantees required for pet food products:
         minimum percentage of crude protein
         minimum percentage of crude fat
         maximum percentage of crude fiber
         maximum percentage of moisture
The “crude” term refers to the specific method of testing the product, not to the quality of the nutrient itsel
Net quantity: The net quantity tells you how much product is in the container.
Calorie Statement: Pet foods can vary greatly in calorie content, even among foods of the same type (dry, canned) and formulated for the same life stage. Feeding directions vary among manufacturers, too, so the number of calories delivered in a daily meal of one food may be quite different from another. The number of calories in a product roughly relates to the amount of fat, although varying levels of non-calorie-containing components, such as water and fiber, can throw this correlation of
The Contact Information: The manufacturer, which identifies who is repsonsbile for the safety of the product and location. By law not all labels will include the city, state and zip code but should be listed in a telephone directory. Most companies include a toll free number on the label for consumer inquiries, or complaint
The label also recommends how much to feed your dog each day. The label should also say what life stage the food is appropriate for. Use these recommendations as a starting point to determine feeding amounts, but consult your veterinarian for the ideal amount.
Treat products are a subset of pet food, and aren’t usually intended to provide a complete and balanced diet. The AAFCO Model Pet food Regulations recognize the intended purpose of treat products and do not require that pet treats meet standard nutritional adequacy requirements, provided the product’s packaging conspicuously displays the terms “snack” or “treat” on its principal display panel.

Snacks or treats that are formulated to meet the nutritional requirements for all life stages or

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